Tag Archives: Time Sensitive Topics

Henry’s Heart: A Boy, His Heart, and a New Best Friend by Charise Mericle Harper

Schema: human heart functions, love

Informational Literature: much factual information about the function of the heart is included. Information about foods, exercise, and the function of the parts of the heart are included in the story.

Personification: Henry’s heart is depicted with some human features with eyes a mouth and feelings.

Henry falls in love with a puppy. We finally have an author who thinks about the chaos that is caused by a nude body part and includes a fig leaf to cover that part in the illustration of Henry’s body. This would be a fun book to read around Valentine’s Day.

Cause and Effect: Henry’s heart is effected by the different causes that occur in the story. His heart reacts to the different stimuli with a fast or slow beat.

Drawing Conclusions and Inferring: What do you conclude Henry has fallen in love with when you read the description of the “girl?”


Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack; artwork by Leo & Diane Dillon

Schema: slavery

The author tells the story in third person in a poetic format.

Setting: West Africa, 1725

Author’s Purpose: to show the perspective of a family whose child has been taken by slave traders

Voice: The language the author uses creates a unique voice for Dinga

Personification: The four elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are personified as they seek to mother and then find Musafa.

Summary: Tell the story in sequence from Musafa’s birth to his being found again in the Southern United States in Charleston, South Carolina.

Drawing Conclusions: Do you conclude that Dinga went mad or insane with the disappearance of Musafa or do you think the elements could have communicated Musafa’s whereabouts to him?

Hurricanes: Many hurricanes have hit the South Carolina coast. The author notes at the end of the book that there is a legend in Barbados that says the “hurricane is Mother Africa in search of her lost children.”

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine

Schema: Underground railroad, escaped slaves

Author’s purpose: to share African American history

Author’s Point of View: 3rd person omniscient as we see the story from more than one character’s point of view

Cause and Effect: Because Henry’s family was sold, the effect was that Henry went to the extreme of mailing himself to escape the sorrow of slavery.

Characterize Henry: hard working, good listener, loving, strong

Mental Images: Henry imagined the carts carrying away his family and all that he loved every night.

Drawing Conclusions: Henry knew that the mail was delivered everywhere. He thought he could stand being in a box for many hours. He drew the conclusion that he could mail himself north to escape slavery.

After Henry’s family is sold, he purposefully pours sulphuric acid on his hand so that he could stay home from work in order to get some help in mailing himself to the northern states to escape slavery in the southern United States.


Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson

Schema: Underground railroad, slaves escaping from the southern U.S.

Metaphor: The quilt as a cover of darkness is compared to the night sky throughout the story as the slaves must hide during the day time and move at night.

Author’s POV: 1st person

Author’s Purpose: to share the history of African American slaves and the people who helped them

Voice: the story is told from an unnamed girls point of view in first person

Mental Images: imagine hiding under a bush in the hot summer and not being able to move much

The story is about a family running to the north for freedom.



Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Schema: Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Text-to-text:  Freedom on the Menu: the Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford

Metaphor: The story uses an extended metaphor to compare the Civil Rights movement to a recipe throughout the story.  Author’sPurpose: to share a story about the civil rights movement and to teach us about African American history

Author’s POV: 3rd person

Cause and Effect: Because the demonstrators were nonviolent, the effect was that the national news only captured the violence of the angry white people which made Dr. King’s message even stronger.

Mental Images: Imagine having salt, ketchup, and coffee poured on your head and pepper thrown in your eyes and still sitting calmly

Organizational Strategies: the story is organized like a poem

This is the story of the four college men who began the Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, February 1, 1960. The author shares a story in language and illustrations that tell what happened with a positive point of view and a message of hope for the future. The metaphor of a recipe is used to mix the ingredients needed to end segregation.







The Hired Hand by Robert D. San Souci

Schema: fairy tales, element of magic

Genre: traditional literature

Setting: Virginia

Predicting: Predict what young Sam will do when the man comes back with the request to make his wife young again

Character Motivation: What motivates young Sam to charge the man for what the hired hand did?  What motivates him to change at the end?

Compare and Contrast young Sam and old Sam:

Characterization of young Sam: He damaged the saw blades because he didn’t clean the logs first concluding that he is lazy; he cuts the boards unevenly concluding that he is careless; he refuses to sweep the shop concluding that he is again lazy and disrespectful toward his father; he is dishonest and arrogant as he “puts on airs” when he is in charge.

Characterization of old Sam: hardworking and kind

Internal consistency of young Sam’s character: What types of things would you see young Sam doing in the future?

Big Idea or Theme: Work hard and treat people well or trouble will find you.

What evidence supports the conclusion that young Sam learned a lesson?

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

stick man

Schema:  sticks, playing with sticks

Text-to-Text Connections: Over in the Meadow, an old rhyme about the animals in a meadow; the rhyme goes something like, “over in the meadow in the sand and the sun lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one…”  See the lyrics

Also a connection with the Gingerbread Man stories as the stick is running from animals and people.

Personification: the stick is personified

Predicting: Ask students to predict what the stick man will be used for next as you are reading the story.

Because a dog grabs him, the effect is that stick man gets farther and farther away from his home.  Every situation where Stick Man is taken can be used as a cause and effect example.

Because Santa Claus rescued the Stick Man, the effect is that he is taken back to his tree.

Organizational Strategies:  Create a flow chart showing the stick’s movement throughout the story.

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

toomany tamalesSchema: making tamales, admiring jewelry

Text-to-Self Connections: taking something without permission, not wanting to get caught, getting together with relatives for the holidays,  seeing something and then remembering something you forgot about

Predicting: Predict what Maria is going to do when her mother leaves to answer the phone.

Drawing Conclusions: What conclusion does Maria come to about the whereabouts of the ring?  What clues from the story lead you to this conclusion?  First she thinks it is in a tamale because she thinks it fell off of her thumb and went into the masa.  Secondly, she thinks Danny swallowed it.

When did Mother come to the conclusion that Maria was playing with the ring? The clues from the story indicate that she found it in the masa since she “scraped off a flake of dried masa”  from the ring.

At what point do you think Maria’s mother found the ring in the masa?  Maybe when she sent Maria to get her father to help?

Synthesis: What do you think Maria synthesized from this experience?  to tell the truth immediately? to leave other people’s belongings alone?

Tree of Cranes by Alan Say

cranesSchema: origami, making a wish

Author’s Purpose: to share the experience of  learning about Christmas in Japan.

Mental Images: The mother describes the lights and trees in California to her son.

Organizational Strategy: Flashback: the book begins with the narrator telling the reader that he had not been back to the pond since he was not old enough to wear long pants.

Point of View: the story is told from the young boy’s point of view.  Because his mother does not meet him at the door as usual, he infers that she might be mad at him for something.  He then wonders why she is acting so strangely making the cranes, digging up the tree, and being so quiet.

Drawing a Conclusion: The mother in the story concludes that her son has been to the fish pond because he is flushed, wet, and cold when he comes home.

Sequence the events in the story from the time the young boy gets home, to the end when he and his father build a snowman.

Simile: At the end of the story, the author compares the passing of the days and time to the snow that has melted away; they are both now gone.

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: an Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston

yearSchema: Christmas trees, theme of the White House Christmas tree

Text-to-Text Connection: That Book Woman by Heather Henson and Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile ( historical fiction using cause and effect and drawing conclusions) by Gloria Houston

Author’s Purpose:   Gloria Houston and her family grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina; the historical fiction story depicts what life was like in the early 1900’s during World War I.

Characterization: Characterize the mother in the story and use example from the text as evidence to support your depiction.

Loyal: She went to the rocky craigs to cut the tree that her husband promised to deliver to the church saying her husband was as good as his word.

Self-sacrificing: She cut up her wedding dress to make a dress for Ruthie to wear in the Christmas play at church.  She also used the nylons her husband mailed to her from Europe to make the doll for Ruthie that became the family heirloom.

Sense of humor:  She went along with the preacher about inferring that the people in the holler were hearing the heavenly angels singing on high the night they cut the tree.

Strong: She used the big saw to cut the tree and then loaded it on the sleigh.

Brave and Courageous: She knew how to “make do” with what they had by using honey instead of sugar, herbal tea instead of coffee, embroidering flowers over rips and tears and lowering the hems of Ruthie’s dresses.

Creative: She designed Ruthie’s dress and created the doll who looked like Ruthie.

Organizational Strategy:  the Flashback:  The story begins with the narrator saying the story happened the way that Ruthie told her.

Metaphor: The old woman was picking her geese for the snow

Simile: the road wound like ribbons